Charles E. Richardson

Stupid is ... as stupid does

A lot of us have been scratching our heads lately asking the question, “What’s gotten into people lately?” Every time we turn around someone is getting shot or robbed. I know mass shootings draw much more attention, followed by the same inevitable debate that quickly fades. However, I’m more worried about the stupid than the simply crazy. Why? Because, it’s more of them, and in the words of Forrest Gump, “Stupid is ... as stupid does.” And there is no known cure.

In western New York last week, 43-year-old Rosemary Bilquist was taking her dogs, Sugar and Stella, for a walk just after sunset. One of her neighbors, 34-year-old Thomas Jadlowski, thought he saw a deer, picked up his pistol, and fired. You know the rest of the story.

It is illegal to hunt after sunset in New York, but common sense should dictate that you know what you’re shooting at before pulling the trigger. To his credit, if any credit is due, Jadlowski didn’t run and tried to render aid, but Jamie Bilquist is now a widower just the same.

But we don’t have to travel to western New York to find stupid. It’s right down the street. A week ago Tuesday, according to reports, 15-year-old Nykhia Sampson, was in an apartment at Blossom Hill Estates on Mercer University Boulevard with 18-year-old Kedrick Reynolds and a 2-year-old. Sampson was babysitting, but as the story goes, she was playing with a gun, supposedly belonging to Reynolds. When he tried to take it from her, the gun went off. The bullet found Sampson’s neck. She was still in critical condition as of last week.

Reynolds, after a previous arrest and conviction of possession of more than an ounce of marijuana in Jones County, had been given first-offender status. Kiss that probation goodbye. Aside from being in a heap of trouble for this incident, even if his story rings true, he’s now been charged with giving false statements to deputies.

Accidental shootings happen all the time and you can’t blame the gun, but you can blame the stupidity of the owners. Back in July, in Crisp County, 11-year-old Charkevious Doster, died reaching for a gun that was lying on top of a dresser in his home.

In October, 18-year-old Tyran Taylor was charged with reckless conduct after accidentally discharging a shotgun in a Michael’s parking lot in Warner Robins. The shot traveled through the driver’s window and struck the vehicle next to it. Fortunately, no one was injured. However, Taylor decided to run — and of course he was caught.

One more sad case and I’ll leave it alone, because there are literally thousands of such cases to choose from. Last month, 61-year-old Michael Williams was outside his home in Detroit spraying for bugs when he heard screaming. There, 53-year-old Patricia Crosby was trying to fight off a pit bull. Williams, who had a concealed-carry permit, pulled out his weapon and fired. Good Samaritan comes to the rescue, right? Unfortunately, Williams missed the dog and killed Crosby.

It is a myth that a well-armed good citizen is the only thing standing in the way of mayhem. I would propose that a well-armed, well-trained citizen could stand in the way of crazies, but there is nothing on our law books that requires proof of proficiency with a weapon. All one needs is a simple background check and be 18 years of age. In an emergency situation, I would worry more about the yahoos, who haven’t seen the shadow of a practice range than the crazies. And most petty criminals can’t hit the broadside of a barn.

I’m not getting into a Second Amendment debate. That’s settled law, but can’t we ask that before buying a gun an owner at least knows how to keep it safe, load it properly, and understand the responsibility they now carry? And, can’t we do a better job of making the owner liable when his or her weapon causes injury or death? We do it with automobiles. You have to prove you can drive and pass a test before getting behind the wheel. Those laws make sense.

We can create gun licensing laws that make sense, too, or we can keep having unnecessary funerals. Now that’s stupid.